Douglas floods don’t qualify for emergency status

The flash floods that ravaged Carson Valley in July and August didn’t rise to the levels required for a state emergency, Douglas County Emergency Management announced Thursday.

The estimated replacement cost or repair of public infrastructure damaged by the four floods was $927,205, well below the federal minimum of $3,753,710 for the 2014 fiscal year.

While Douglas County Emergency Management had requested due to the close timing of these events (July 20, July 30, Aug. 6 and Aug. 11) the state consider combining all damage under one event, FEMA regulations do not allow for combining damage costs of multiple events.

“We knew even with combining the four events, and a declared Disaster Declaration request we would probably fall far short of the levels necessary for federal and state assistance,” said Douglas County Emergency Manager Tod Carlini. “We realize many residents had private damage costs, and even if the funds were allocated, only public infrastructure damage costs were considered.”

Douglas County did not apply for state assistance from the State Disaster Relief Account as it was determined the cost to public infrastructure was within the financial means of Douglas County.

“While it is a good thing that the state maintains funding for disaster relief, a county needs to be in pretty bad shape financially to qualify or the damage costs simply exceed their financial capacity,” said Carlini.

The Nevada State Technical Assistance and Response Team (START) identified the cost by using the FEMA Public Assistance categories:

Debris Removal — $376,565; Emergency Protection Measures — $281,828; Roads and Bridges — $164,648; Water Control Facilities — $99,164; Other Public Infrastructure losses — $5,000.

The five damage categories of all four flood events totaled $927,205. FEMA regulations only consider damage to public infrastructure in calculating the total cost of the disaster.

There were no properties considered as major damage which would have left the properties uninhabitable. No homes were issued “Red Tags” by the Douglas County Building Department.

Property damage assessment data was collected by actual site visits, individual reporting by phone or email contacts established by the County during and after the events, and via a “town-hall meeting” conducted in the Johnson Lane area.

The Douglas County Emergency Management and other county department managers met following the conclusion of the flooding to collaborate on an After Action Plan.

The plan includes:

■ Update the County Emergency Operations Plan

■ Establish pre-plans for future events:

Determine Board of Commissioners role as the Policy Group during events

Expanding the use of situational data from the public,

Establishing field offices during the recovery portion of the incident

Expand Public Information Capacities through training and education

In addition the Douglas County Engineering staff has also made two assistance requests to the United States Army Corps of Engineers (ACOE) to directly address flooding in the Johnson Lane area. The first request, made under the Advanced Technical Measures Assistance (Public Law 84-99), will have allow ACOE to construct temporary flood protection facilities until permanent facilities could be designed and constructed by Douglas County.

The second request, made under the Planning Assistance to States, is for the ACOE to identify potential types and locations of flood control structures under an Area Drainage Master Plan (ADMP). Douglas County is expecting notification from the ACOE on the Planning Assistance to States request by the end of February.

Douglas County Engineering Staff in partnership with the Nevada Division of Emergency Management continues to look for and apply for grants to identify and reduce flood risk. In the last two years, work has started on two construction projects to reduce flood risks and four studies to identify flood risks.

“Flood risk, mitigation, prevention and management continues to be a priority for Douglas County, The Commission and our Emergency Management Team,” said County Manager Jim Nichols. “We did learn from this experience, and we will continue to work toward programs, grants, and best management practices to improve public infrastructure and recovery from similar events in the future.”


Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Sign in to comment